The hidden side of politics

Pacers erase 17-point deficit, put Cavs in 2-1 series hole

Reported by ESPN:

INDIANAPOLIS — Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers had to rally from 26 points down to beat the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of their first-round series at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. On Friday, it was the Cavs’ turn to blow a double-digit lead, as the Pacers came back from 17 down to go up 2-1 on the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions.

JR Smith rebounded a missed Darren Collison free throw and advanced it up the floor, but his 3-point attempt from a few steps past the half-court line fell short at the buzzer to give the Pacers the 92-90 win.

LeBron James came into this series 12-0 all time in the first round and having won 21 straight first-round games, as his teams in Cleveland and Miami had made it to seven straight NBA Finals.

Now, he’ll need three wins in the final four games against the Pacers — if it even goes that far — just to assure a second-round berth.

After taking a 17-point lead into halftime, Cleveland scored just 12 points in the third quarter. It was a dreadful 5 for 19 showing, with seven turnovers, and by the time it was over, the Cavs saw their cushion cut to just six points heading into the fourth. Cleveland had been 40-0 this season including the playoffs when leading entering the fourth quarter.

A four-point play by Bojan Bogdanovic midway through the final frame gave Indiana its first lead since the score was 13-12. On the very next possession, Bogdanovic hit another 3 to put the Pacers up by seven with 5:40 remaining.

James cut it to one less than two minutes later with back-to-back 3s. He finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

The treys by James only served to emphasize the struggles some of his teammates had from the outside: Kyle Korver, George Hill, Rodney Hood and Jeff Green combined to shoot 1-for-11 from deep.

After James tied the game with a free throw at 84-84, the Pacers went on a 5-0 spurt, again punctuated by a Bogdanovic 3.

Kevin Love frantically rebounded a James missed 3 and hit a corner 3 of his own to cut Indiana’s lead to just one with 7.6 seconds left. Cleveland fouled Collison after a timeout, leading to the final sequence and Smith’s miss.

Love, who finished with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, took only one shot after halftime before that late desperation 3.

Hill, back in his home state of Indiana, was a revelation early: He scored nine of his 13 points in the first quarter. (This after scoring 12 points combined in Games 1 and 2.) But only two of Friday’s 13 points came after halftime.

Other role players showed up for the Cavs too. Just not consistently enough.

Green, perhaps the most maligned Cavalier to start the series, dunked on Myles Turner early in the fourth quarter after Turner had canned a jumper to cut the Cavs’ lead to four a possession before.

Hood, right there next to Green in terms of criticism after Games 1 and 2, scored eight points on 4-for-8 shooting.

The Cavs as a team scored 33 points after halftime. Bogdanovic scored 19 after halftime by himself en route to 30 for the game.

Cleveland, playing with a vastly different roster before revamping its team at the trade deadline, also blew a 22-point lead to lose in Indiana earlier in the season.